Striving for excellence: Coach Gary’s vision for Seaforth football

By Gene Galin

Siler City, NC – At the Chatham County high schools football media event, Seaforth High School’s football coach, Terrance Gary, shared his thoughts and experiences about the transformation of the Seaforth football program over the past four years. The event offered a unique perspective on the evolution of the team, highlighting both the challenges and the triumphs that have shaped its journey. Coach Gary has focused on fostering a sense of camaraderie, dedication, and growth.

Building a Foundation: From Freshmen to Seniors

Terrance Gary has been at the helm of Seaforth’s football program since its inception, from the early days with only freshmen and sophomores to now leading a full-fledged team. The growth has been somewhat remarkable, as Seaforth has become one of the largest schools in the county. “It’s been a lot,” Coach Gary acknowledges. From assembling equipment and devising game plans to hiring coaches, the journey has been filled with challenges and triumphs.

A significant aspect of the journey, according to Coach Gary, has been establishing a solid foundation that goes beyond the football field. He emphasizes that football is a means to a greater end – preparing young athletes for life after graduation, in college and beyond. “This is way bigger than football,” Coach Gary asserts, highlighting the importance of effort, determination, and building character. He believes that these qualities, instilled through the football program, can contribute significantly to a student’s success.

Seaforth football coach Terrance Gary and the players he brought to the media event. (photo by Gene Galin)

Coach Gary’s journey at Seaforth began with a group of freshmen and sophomores. Over the years, he witnessed the team’s growth from a small, inexperienced group to a formidable football program. Despite his initial unfamiliarity with the area and its people, Coach Gary’s commitment to establishing a strong foundation has become evident. For him, it was more than just about wins and losses—it was about cultivating character and preparing these young athletes for life beyond the football field.

“Our program is built on effort,” Coach Gary emphasized. Regardless of a player’s talent level, he underscored that effort was non-negotiable. This philosophy, rooted in hard work and determination, has been a driving force behind the program’s progress.

Effort as the Driving Force

One principle that Coach Gary consistently emphasizes is the value of effort. He’s known for his belief that even mistakes are acceptable, as long as players put forth their best effort. “I get really upset when they don’t give me the effort I expect,” he candidly admits. This philosophy has created a culture of accountability, where players strive to improve, learn from their mistakes, and consistently give their all on and off the field.

Leadership: From Coaches to Players

The role of senior leadership in a sports program can be pivotal, but at Seaforth, leadership transcends grade levels. Coach Gary explains that leadership isn’t determined solely by seniority; it’s about dedication and commitment. “We have freshmen that have taken the example of our guys that have been there since day one,” he says. The team operates as a cohesive unit, with players coaching and supporting each other. This approach fosters a sense of accountability and shared responsibility that drives the team forward.

One of the nicer aspects of Seaforth’s journey has been the emergence of player-driven leadership. Coach Gary proudly stated, “They can really coach each other.” He highlighted the players’ ability to guide, mentor, and motivate each other, creating a supportive ecosystem within the team. The emphasis on self-accountability has allowed players to grow not just as athletes but as responsible individuals.

The shift to this player-centric approach also signifies the program’s holistic development, where leadership extends beyond the senior class. Freshmen and sophomores have embraced their roles as leaders, breaking the traditional hierarchy and fostering a sense of unity among all team members.

Challenges and Triumphs: From Adversity to Success

Coach Gary’s pride in his team’s journey is evident when he recalls the challenges they’ve overcome. Reflecting on the previous seasons, Coach Gary candidly shared his perspective on the challenges faced. Facing larger and more experienced opponents, the team stood its ground and progressively improved. “It was challenging last year playing varsity with a bunch of sophomores against some gargantuans,” Coach Gary recalls, referring to tough matchups against more established schools. However, the players accepted the challenge and grew stronger through the experience.

He also recalled the excitement of Seaforth’s first varsity win, a significant milestone that marked the culmination of relentless effort and perseverance. It was a symbol of the progress achieved within the program.

Looking Ahead: A Unified Team and Community

The Seaforth football program has not only established itself as a competitive force on the field but has also integrated itself into the local community. The team’s matchups against Northwood, Chatham Central, and Jordan-Matthews hold special significance. Coach Gary’s dedication to winning every game, combined with the shared aspirations of the players, has led to a strong sense of community support.

Looking forward, Coach Gary remains focused on growth, unity, and excellence. The introduction of a new system reflects his commitment to innovation and adaptability. While the specifics of the new system are not disclosed, the emphasis on covering weaknesses and ensuring a seamless transition is evident.

Player Perspectives: Commitment, Family, and Heart

For the players, the essence of playing for Seaforth is embodied in words like “excitement,” “family,” and “heart.” These sentiments reflect the team’s commitment to each other, their passion for the game, and the strong bonds that have formed over years of training and competition. Whether it’s the thrill of a first varsity win or the satisfaction of growth and improvement, the Seaforth football experience is a testament to the power of dedication and shared goals.

The players of the Seaforth football program echoed Coach Gary’s sentiments. Jackson Powell, a running back and linebacker, emphasized the importance of doing the right thing, a sentiment shared by his teammates. The thrill of victories, both big and small, highlighted the players’ commitment to the program and their shared sense of accomplishment.

David, a strong safety, spoke about giving 100% effort as a cornerstone of the team’s values. For him, it wasn’t just about the plays on the field but about dedicating oneself fully to the pursuit of excellence.

Walt, a quarterback, touched on the notion of leadership, regardless of age or grade. He emphasized the need for players to step up and inspire each other, reflecting the program’s belief that leadership is not confined to a particular class of players.

A Program Rooted in Values and Growth

From building a foundation with freshman and sophomore players to embracing a player-driven leadership model, the program’s evolution exemplifies the importance of effort, accountability, and camaraderie. Coach Gary’s coaching philosophy extends beyond the football field, emphasizing the lessons learned, the relationships formed, and the character developed through the sport.

Quick notes

  • 🏈 The program started three years ago, progressing from freshman to senior year.
  • 🏆 The coach values effort and building a strong foundation.
  • 📸 Players enjoy looking back at their growth, even from their freshman year.
  • 💪 Senior players act as leaders and coaches for each other.
  • 🌟 Positive surprises have emerged in scrimmages within the new system.
  • 👔 The coach has been developing the program for years.
  • 🏅 Achievements like the first varsity win have brought smiles.
  • 🎓 The coach emphasizes the bigger life lessons beyond football.
  • 🔑 Senior leadership emphasizes unity, effort, and leading by example.

View the Seaforth coach and players at the media event on YouTube.

00:14 Coach’s journey from coaching the first team to becoming the largest school in the county

  • Started with freshman and sophomores, now a full four years
  • Process involved putting equipment together, coming up with game plans, and hiring coaches

01:39 Building a program based on effort and foundation

  • Football is seen as a means to success beyond the game
  • Effort is the most important aspect, regardless of talent
  • Expectations for effort are high and lack of effort is upsetting

02:43 Building a strong team despite facing challenging opponents

  • The team faced tough competition from larger schools
  • The players accepted the challenge and showed resilience

03:51 Improved player coaching and accountability are key factors in the program’s success.

  • Players support and coach each other, taking responsibility for their own improvement.
  • A change in conference alignment has made games against Northwood, Chatham Central, and J-M more important.

05:01 Senior leadership is not necessarily based on grade level.

  • Freshmen have taken the example of older players to become leaders.
  • Grade level does not determine who is placed in leadership positions.

06:01 The players discuss what they have learned and positive surprises in the game

  • Players admire the leadership qualities of their teammates
  • Players appreciate the new system and efforts to cover weaknesses
  • Players have learned to give 100% effort at all times

07:25 Effort and unity are key for success

  • Effort and being there for the team are important
  • Unity as a team and support from community

08:49 Winning the first varsity game

  • Memorable moment of dumping Gatorade on Coach Gary with teammates
  • Impressed by the growth of the program and legacy created